Sparks  are an American pop and rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals).  The duo formed in 1968 under the name Halfnelson.  Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks’ music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics; and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell’s animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron’s deadpan scowling.  They are also noted for Russell Mael’s distinctive falsetto voice and Ron Mael’s intricate and rhythmic keyboard playing style.  (More from Wikipedia)

The Giles Brothers later connected with the Dowland brothers in a band called the Dowland Brothers & the Soundtracks.  I suppose there have been other rock bands that featured two pairs of brothers in the line-up, but one doesn’t come to mind right away.  (Well, there is Sparks, originally known as Halfnelson, founded by the Mael brothersRon Mael and Russell Mael, and including the Mankey brothersEarle Mankey and Jim Mankey, on their first two albums).  The sound of these earliest recordings (from 1962) sound a lot like another set of brothers, the Everly Brothers.  Several of these songs were produced by the legendary Joe Meek, one of the most innovative figures in early British rock music; his best known recording is the instrumental “Telstar” by the Tornados (released in December 1962), the first rock song (and only the second record, period) by a British artist to reach the top of the American charts. 


(March 2013)


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In 1979, backed by a studio rhythm section – Billy Persons on bass and Danny Benair on drums – the Weirdos enlisted top L.A. producer Earle Mankey (formerly a guitarist in Sparks) to engineer six songs for a mini-album called Who? What? When? Where? Why?; these tracks close the Bomp album, though the masters were difficult to locate after so many years.  But as Mick Farren put it:  “Finally, though, the 30th Anniversary collection of the Weirdos was assembled, proving beyond any shadow of doubt that, among seminal punk bands, the Weirdos were one of LA’s finest.” 
(March 2017)
Last edited: April 3, 2021